Cool, new interactive Metro Information Tower debuts at Union Station

Kiosk (2 of 4)

Kiosk (4 of 4)

If you’re visiting Union Station on Saturday for the 75th anniversary festivities, please check out the new Metro Information Tower that looks a little like the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey” but doesn’t leave you guessing about its purpose in life.

The 17-foot tall interactive kiosk in the Union Station East Portal – there’s only one up and running so far but other, smaller demo kiosks will be around Union Station tomorrow — just might turn out to be your go-to travel tool. Please see the video posted below.

Touchscreen displays include a station guide, a timeline of Union Station history, nearby Metro Destination Discounts that are available to TAP card holders, Nextrip real-time arrivals, the Metro Trip Planner, Metro transit schedules and maps and variable options this weekend including Instagram uploads of Union Station photos hash-tagged with #LAUS75.

On May 3, the demo kiosk near the Information Booth in Union Station will run the only known footage of the 1939 Union Station opening. It was shot by famed Jiminy Cricket animator Ward Kimball.

Metro is also planning to install more touchscreen displays in the future at other Metro Rail stations as part of the Interactive Kiosk Pilot Program.

Related:

Here’s the lineup of entertainment for Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Metro announces new 75th anniversary commemorative TAP cards

 

Gates to be latched on Wednesday at Green Line’s Avalon station

metro-map-green-line

On Wednesday May 7, 2014, at 6 a.m., Metro will latch the Avalon station of the Metro Green Line. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) will provide advance notification and customer assistance at the station from Monday, May 5th through Tuesday May 6th between the hours of 6 and 9 a.m. and 3 and 6 p.m.  

4635711513_f6a6630bb1_zMetro Green Line stations already latched include Redondo Beach, Douglas, El Segundo, Mariposa, Aviation/LAX, Hawthorne/Lennox, Crenshaw, Vermont/Athens and Harbor Freeway.

Metro plans to latch the four remaining Green Line Stations by the end of this month. All Red/Purple, Blue and Gold Line stations equipped with gates are now latched. Once all latching is completed, 40 of 80 rail stations will be latched; Metro staff are studying whether to add gates at some existing and future rail stations. 

Once gates are latched, turnstiles will not allow a rider to enter the station unless a TAP card with an appropriate fare has been tapped at the gate. 

Zocalo Public Square to host forum pondering the 710 gap and regional mobility

Photo: Zocalo Public Square

Photo: Zocalo Public Square

Here’s something different: Zocalo Public Square is holding a forum next Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at MOCA on the 710 freeway gap and regional mobility issues.

Of course, the ongoing SR-710 project is looking at the same issue with five alternatives under consideration: a freeway tunnel, light rail, bus rapid transit, traffic signal and intersection improvements and the legally-required no-build option. The project is funded with $780 million from the Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 — a lot of money but not enough for some of the more expensive options.

Here is a description on the forum from the Zocalo website:

The 710 is one of the most important freeways in Southern California. It’s also shorter than originally planned: For nearly 50 years, legal and environmental challenges have stalled the freeway in Alhambra, 4.5 miles short of its intended destination, Pasadena. Over the decades, discussions about extending the freeway have cast its future as a local issue. But the 710 causes traffic, produces pollution, and affects commerce across Los Angeles and even beyond. How broad are these impacts, and what role might the stalled extension play in them? What would the five options now being debated for dealing with the Alhambra-to-Pasadena gap–implementing new surface traffic technology and strategies, new rapid bus transit, light rail transit, a freeway tunnel, or building nothing at all–mean for our region? UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies directorBrian Taylor, Clean Tech Advocates senior advisor and former California Environment Secretary Linda S. Adams, L.A. Chamber of Commerce president Gary Toebben, and Southern California Association of Governments executive director Hasan Ikhrata visit Zócalo to discuss what these proposals mean for all of us.

 

The forum is hosted by NBC-4 reporter Conan Nolan.

The forum is free. Click here to make a reservation. MOCA is located at 250 S. Grand Street and is a short walk (although uphill) from the Metro Red/Purple Line’s Civic Center station or via numerous Metro bus lines, including the Silver Line and Lines 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 96 and 378. For those driving, there are numerous lots in the area and parking is $9 at Disney Hall.

Metro is expected to soon announce the release date of the draft environment study for the project. Click here to visit the project’s home page on the Metro website.

 

Public hearing set for May 14 to comment on Metro’s proposed $5.5-billion budget for FY 2015

Here is the news release from Metro and the proposed budget is above:

A public hearing is set for 1 p.m. on May 14, 2014 to hear comment on Metro’s proposed balanced $5.508 billion Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) budget, set to begin July 1, 2014. The proposed budget includes continued commitment to the largest highway and rail building program in America, bus headway improvements and $283.4 million in maintenance expenditures to keep the system in top form. 

The public hearing will take place during the regularly scheduled meeting of the Metro Board Finance Committee at the Metro Board Room, 1 Gateway Plaza, Los Angeles. The public can view copies of the balanced budget proposal at www.metro.net/fy15proposed or request a copy from the Metro Records Management Center at RMC@metro.net.

The draft FY15 budget enhances many services while keeping fares at low levels, however, a decision on a proposed fare increase to eliminate a projected $36.8 million operating budget deficit by Fiscal Year 2017 is pending the May 22 Metro Board meeting.  

As part of the $283.4 million targeted at maintenance, Metro will spend $192.7 million on bus service including the purchase of 550 new clean-burning CNG buses and about $50 million for rail improvements on the Blue Line and the Red Line subway in the next fiscal year. 

Safety is critical to Metro passengers and the FY15 budget contains $48.7 million to keep the system as safe as possible. Enhancements include improvements to cameras and video monitoring, security kiosks are various rail stations, signal system rehabilitation on the Metro Blue and Green lines and pedestrian safety improvements on the Metro Red Line with an underpass and overpass bridge planned for Universal City and North Hollywood stations. 

Metro continues construction on the most comprehensive public works program in America with Measure R and other funding sources. In FY15, Metro will have five major rail projects either under construction or prepared to begin including the Metro Gold Line extension to Azusa, the Metro Expo Line extension to Santa Monica, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Regional Connector. The Metro Purple Line extension to Westwood has cleared major legal hurdles and is expected to receive a federal full funding grant agreement by mid-May. 

In terms of highway projects, the mammoth undertaking of modernizing and expanding capacity of the I-405 will be completed in FY15 and other projects are moving forward including I-5 widening from Orange County to the I-605, the I-710 South Corridor, the North SR-710 study and a variety of other improvements including continuation of countywide sound wall construction and the Freeway Beautification Pilot Project designed maintain landscape and remove graffiti and debris.

The Metro ExpressLanes Project continues to provide travel options on the I-10 and I-110 freeways with future expansion of ExpressLanes to be studied. The Kenneth Hahn Countywide Callbox System continues operation along with development of the Motorist Aid and Travel Information System (MATIS). 

Metro will continue to contribute both operations and capital funding to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority with FY15 capital projects including the Bob Hope Airport/Hollywood Way station, Van Nuys Second Platform, Vincent Grade/Acton and Lancaster Stations, Doran Street Crossing design, Raymer to Bernson Double Track and Southern California Regional Interconnectivity Program (SCRIP), which will increase Union Station Capacity. 

Stay informed by following Metro on The Source and El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro, twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts and instagram.com/metrolosangeles.

TAP cards can now be used on Long Beach Transit

photo_regular-serviceThe TAP network continues to grow as Long Beach Transit today becomes the latest agency to join as a fully TAP-enabled bus fleet.

Long Beach Transit riders now have the choice to pay their fare with TAP cards instead of paper passes or cash. A rider simply taps the card against a TAP mobile validator while boarding, listens for the beep and watches for the green screen that shows that the card is valid.

Riders can purchase Long Beach regular, senior/disabled, student, stored value or EZ transit passes at taptogo.net, at the Transit & Visitor Information Center in downtown Long Beach and at select TAP pass sales outlets. Here is the announcement on Long Beach Transit’s website.

Stored value can be purchased at any Metro Rail station TAP vending machine. Fourteen addition transit agencies are set to join TAP this year including the city bus fleets in Glendale, Pasadena and Santa Monica.

Current TAP partners include Access Services, Antelope Valley, Culver City, Foothill, Gardena, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Metro, Montebello, Norwalk, Santa Clarita and Torrance. Metrolink has its own TAP enabled tickets.

With each addition to the TAP network, we get closer to the goal of a seamless, regional transportation network where passengers can transfer easily without digging into their pockets for change when boarding. 

ExpressLanes on 10 and 110 freeways to be continued beyond next January

The Metro Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to continue the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 freeways beyond January of 2015. The Board also voted to charge a $1 monthly maintenance fee on all ExpressLanes accounts to help cover costs of operating the lanes but chose to exempt those with equity accounts.

In order for the ExpressLanes to continue beyond January, a second step is required: a state bill that is pending in Sacramento (SB 1298) must also be approved.

The vote followed the release of a federal preliminary analysis this week that found that the ExpressLanes met many of their goals since initially launching on the 110 freeway in Nov. 2012 followed by the opening of the lanes on the 10 freeway in Feb. 2013. In particular, Metro officials noted that commuters who shifted from the general lanes on both freeways to the toll lanes enjoyed a speedier commute; users saw an average peak period travel time savings of 17.11 and 13.86 minutes on the 10 freeway and 12.80 and 7.81 minutes on the 110 for the morning and afternoon peak periods, respectively.

Ridership in the Silver Line — which uses the ExpressLanes on both the 10 and 110 — also increased 27 percent.

One item that generated discussion was the maintenance fee. When the ExpressLanes began, there was a $3 account maintenance fee for those who used the lanes three or fewer times each month. After complaints from customers that the fee served as deterrent to sign up for an account, the Metro Board decided to waive that fee last spring.

Still, Metro must pay its concessionaire $3 for each transponder issued. Metro Board Member Gloria Molina authored the motion calling for the $1 fee for all users as a way to regain $2.3 million of that cost, saying she wants to see as much of the money generated by tolls (about $18 to $20 million during the pilot period, twice what was expected) to be reinvested into transportation improvements in the 10 and 110 corridors.

Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky said he was against the $1 fee but said it was an improvement on the $3 fee.

Metro officials say that they anticipate improving marketing, outreach, education and enforcement efforts along the ExpressLanes. Most of those who testified publicly asked the Board to extend the ExpressLanes program. Several Board Member also said that they are interested in expanding the toll lanes to other freeways in the future, although the only plans on the table are for eight miles of toll lanes in the Santa Clarita Valley on the 5 freeway.

In order to use the ExpressLanes, all users must have a transponder. To learn more about opening an account, please visit the ExpressLanes homepage.

The news release from Metro is after the jump.

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Metro Board of Directors’ April meeting is underway

The gavel just dropped, thereby starting the monthly meeting of the full Metro Board of Directors.

Here’s the agenda. And here’s a Source post from yesterday looking at some of the key issues that are scheduled to be considered today.

The Board also voted to approve items on the consent calendar. Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois also announced that Karen Gorman has been offered — and accepted — the job of Inspector General for the agency.

Board Chair DuBois also reported on her recent trip to Osaka, Japan, to meet with officials of Kinkisharyo, the firm hired by Metro to build new rail cards. She said that the meeting was encouraged and that she is confident in Kinkisharyo’s ability to deliver the new rail cars on time. The rail cars are needed for the existing rail lines as well as the Expo Line Phase 2 and Gold Line Foothill Extension, both of which are forecast to open in early 2016.

If you want to listen by phone, please call 213-922-6045.